James Winn Named Director of Boston University Humanities Foundation

Contact: Amy Biderman, 617-358-1185 | amyjb@bu.edu

(Boston)- James Winn, professor of English and former chair of the English Department, will serve as the next director of the Boston University Humanities Foundation (BUHF), effective Sept. 1. He succeeds Katherine O’Connor, professor of Russian Studies, who will continue her association with the foundation as co-director.

“I am delighted that a person with such impressive scholarly and artistic breadth and leadership experience is eager to lead the BUHF through its next era,” College of Arts & Sciences Dean Virginia Sapiro said in announcing Dr. Winn’s appointment. “We will work closely together to continue to strengthen the influence of the humanities at Boston University.”

Dr. Winn brings a wealth of knowledge in the arts and humanities to his new post. His scholarly work combines a commitment to the literature of England in the Restoration and early eighteenth century with a broad interest in the relationship between literature and other arts. Before joining BU, he taught at Yale University and the University of Michigan, where he was the founding director of the Institute for the Humanities. He served as chairman of BU’s Department of English from 1998 to 2007.

A prolific author, Dr. Winn is best known for his biography of John Dryden, John Dryden and His World, which won the British Humanities Council Prize and the Yale University Press Governors’ Award. Another work, Unsuspected Eloquence: A History of the Relations between Poetry and Music, remains the only general study of its kind. Winn’s scholarly interest in music, developed in many books and articles, reflects his continuing career as a classical flutist. His most recent book, The Poetry of War, is addressed to general readers interested in this most timely topic.

Dr. Winn received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and doctoral degree from Yale University.

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead the Boston University Humanities Foundation,” Winn said. “I am eager to begin working with my colleagues to make it a vibrant center for interdisciplinary activities.”

Dean Sapiro appointed Dr. Winn to the directorship after reviewing finalists resulting from a thorough review of candidates by a faculty committee. In naming him to the post, Dean Sapiro pointed to the essential role of the BUHF in the College’s strength in the humanities.

“A college of arts and sciences cannot be first-rate without tremendous strength in the humanities,” she said. “Through Katherine O’Connor’s dedicated leadership and visionary approach, the BUHF has raised the stature of the humanities and ensured that they remain vibrant and visible in the College. Now, as James Winn takes the helm, the BUHF will continue to chart a course that stimulates scholarly creativity through individual work and collaboration across the breadth of the arts and humanities at BU.”

The BUHF was established in 1981 to advance the humanities and related research and scholarship at BU. The foundation has made a multitude of new programs possible in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. These include new courses, library acquisitions, scholarships for students in the humanities, and visiting professorships. In addition, the BUHF annually funds more than $100,000 in special programs such as conferences, lecture series, faculty workshops, senior research fellowships, graduate research abroad fellowships, and support for undergraduate organizations and journals.

“Our goal is for the foundation to play an even greater role in stimulating scholarly creativity through individual work and collaboration across the breadth of the arts and humanities at BU,” Dean Sapiro added. “At the same time, the BUHF will highlight the superb work being done in the humanities at BU and help us play even more of a leadership role outside of the university.”

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes that are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.